Sheffield's golden girl Jessica Ennis-Hill on her Damehood, keeping busy after athletics and her plans for the future

The now Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill outside Buckingham Palace. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
The now Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill outside Buckingham Palace. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
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Training in the freezing, wet weather on the Don Valley track, little did Sheffield's Jessica Ennis-Hill know she would go on to rub shoulders with royalty and receive a Damehood for her monumental success.

But the former King Ecgbert School pupil - now aptly titled Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill - said she found it hard to keep the news tight-lipped and spilled the announcement to most of her family.

Jessica after her 2016 Olympic silver in Rio. Picture: PA

Jessica after her 2016 Olympic silver in Rio. Picture: PA

Deserved from her golden games in London which made her a household name, a poster girl for young budding British athletes.

An incredible gold in the World Championships in 2015 followed just 13 months after having her son Reggie bringing widespread praise.

Her silver in the Rio Olympics in 2016 topped off an amazing athletics career.

Jessica's main career goal now is to motivate people to get active and inspire the next generation of gold medal winners.

Jessica has been busy since retirement from athletics and recently launched the 500,000 Beyond The Treatment appeal for Weston Park Cancer Charity

Jessica has been busy since retirement from athletics and recently launched the 500,000 Beyond The Treatment appeal for Weston Park Cancer Charity

Despite stepping off the track, the six months since her retirement from professional athletics has been nothing short of hectic.

Releasing a series of children's books, receiving her Damehood, planning ahead for the birth of her second child and her work with Vitality Move on the launch of a new running event at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire has kept her diary jam packed.

Speaking to The Star at the launch of her new running event at Chatsworth House in July, Jessica recalled the special day down in London.

"I never, ever thought I'd meet Prince William or that I've met the Queen and to go to Buckingham Palace," she said.

Heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill is made a Dame Commander by the Duke of Cambridge during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.  Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill is made a Dame Commander by the Duke of Cambridge during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

"I just started athletics as a young kid running and being active and doing all the different events and you never quite think what might come of it if you are successful.

"It was such a proud moment to be at the palace with my family and to receive a Damehood was really really surreal."

But Sheffield's golden girl found it difficult to keep the news to herself and made family and friends swear to keep it a secret until the official announcement.

"It was hard but I did tell my husband and my mum and dad and my sister and my grandparents!" Jessica said with a chuckle.

Jessica Ennis-Hill chats with Sister Nikki Burkhill during a visit to Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield where she launched a new charity appeal

Jessica Ennis-Hill chats with Sister Nikki Burkhill during a visit to Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield where she launched a new charity appeal

"I also told a few people but I obviously said to them 'this is top secret' and they were great and when my friends found out they were very proud and I got lots of congratulations. It was such a special experience - one I'll never forget."

The news on her retirement will have disappointed many British athletics fans but the Olympic silver medallist said the 'time was right'.

But Jessica hasn't been putting her feet up and taking it easy, she's heavily involved in different projects and is loving every minute.

The track star said she was bound to miss competing but she has now moved into a 'new phase of her life'.

"It's been a different kind of busy," she said.

"I've not had the level of intense training and competing that I've been used to doing and there's been lots of different projects and a lot of energy has been going into making Vitality Move coming together and with it being a few months away, that's been really exciting.

"I've been doing my children's books and lots of other things along the way so it's been a different few months than I've ever experienced in my life but it's been incredible and I'm really enjoying it.

"I'll always be a competitive person and I'll want to be successful in whatever I try do and when the season starts and the championship begin and I probably feel like 'oh I miss that' and that adrenaline rush again.

"But I'm entering a new phase of my life and doing different things and it's really about wanting to inspire other people to enjoy being active and living a healthy lifestyle and I hope to continue the work with Vitality Move for as long as possible and hope the event grows more each year and I'm doing what I want to do and what I'm passionate about."

A huge new chapter in her life has been becoming a mum. Jessica revealed last month she is expecting her second child with husband Andy.

She said: "It changes anyone who becomes a parent for the first time I think your life changes completely and you see things in a different light.

"For me now I've had all those years of very much focusing on myself competing, training and making sure everything was right for me to perform at my best and now life is so centred around my children to make that they have a great life and to hopefully to be a bit sporty along the way."

The city where Jessica grew up, trained and forged her Olympic success will always have a special place in her heart.

"It's been incredible - I've always had fantastic support from the city and to do all my training there and to continue living here all these years is amazing.

"It's a great city and a great part of the country and I've enjoyed my time training here and I'll enjoy many more years in Sheffield."

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